School of Behavioral Sciences


Doctor of Education in Community Care and Counseling (EdD)


Stephen W Ford


anti-sex-trafficking agencies, secondary trauma, burnout, compassion fatigue, rescued sex trafficked women, employees of anti-sex-trafficking agencies




This phenomenological study aims to understand the shared experience of employees who work directly with rescued sex-trafficked women at anti-trafficking agencies in the United States. Chapter One details the theoretical contexts, including Maslow’s (1954) hierarchy of needs, Maslach’s (1982) cost of caring: burnout, McCann and Pearlman’s (1990) construct of vicarious traumatization, Rotter’s (1954) social learning theory as it relates to the impact of working with severely traumatized people. The problem statement is explained as the effectiveness of anti-sex trafficking agencies being influenced by the staff who provide care to rescued sex trafficked women, and there is currently little to no research on them. This study aims to identify the experiences of anti-sex trafficking agency employees who work directly with rescued sex-trafficked women and bring awareness to the effects of being employed in this field. Chapter 2 is an overview of the current literature on this topic. Because the research is underdeveloped in this field, the literature review focuses on the complexities of working with rescued sex-trafficked women and burnout components in similar occupations. Chapter 3 explains the phenomenological design, participants, and procedures. Data was collected through interviews, focused groups, and document reviews. Data was analyzed by looking for the meaning in patterns, themes, and categories found in the data. Chapter 4 describes the particpants, presents the results of the study,and addresses the research questions. Chapter 5 provides a summary of the findings and is followed by the discussions and implications for policy and practice. Next the chapter offers delimitations and limitations, followed by recommendations for further research.

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